Sandra Benedetto: Untitled

My Grandma’s memory is a steel trap
no date or face
in danger of escaping

She’ll say
That’s the year
your great-aunt Dorothy
fell from the cherry picker
and broke her back

She’ll say
That’s the make of car
that your Grandpa drove me to school in
because we were neighbors
and his father made him

She’ll say
That’s the address
near the base in Texas
where we lived
when your mom had the measles

She’ll take out stacks of
black and white photographs
of Midwestern men in overalls
framed by cornstalks
or in suits and hats on Sunday
and unruffled mothers
holding the hands
of little girls in curls
and simple dresses

She’ll call them all by names
that sound both
foreign and familiar
like Sema Shaw
and Gust Anderson
and I like to search
their eyes
for evidence
that they are a part of me

Women and men
that sowed
and sewed
and taught
and baked
and nurtured
and wed
and prayed
and died

Cut from the cloth
of Scandinavian stoicism
and European work ethic
with no time for
the luxury of melancholy
Sturdy branches
that have thinned out
into this wispy offshoot
of a generation

But my Grandma
she’s strong like them
and she honors their memory
by remembering
and telling us stories
that I need to hear again
and again
because I always forget
who did what when
So next time
I need to listen
more carefully


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